With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Michigan Wolverines.
After a run to the national championship game in 2013 and a narrow loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight in 2014, last season was a year of regression in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines started the season ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press top 25 and finished the season with a 16-16 record. It was the first NCAA tournament miss for Michigan since the 2009-2010 campaign. The primary culprit for the slide was injuries as John Beilein’s backcourt of Caris LeVert (15 games) and Derrick Walton (14 games) missed significant time.
In Sunday’s 70-67 win over the Wolverines, Troy Williams scored a team-high 20 points. Williams got eight of those points on dunks and would have had 10 of them via slams had his finish of an alley-oop in the first half from Yogi Ferrell not have been called off due to a dubious offensive foul call on Ferrell.
We’ll take a look at his four dunks that counted in the latest edition of Film Session:
On the first possession of the game, Michigan plays some good defense and Indiana just has five ticks left on the shot clock. Collin Hartman sets a screen for James Blackmon Jr. at the top of the key. Williams is in the left corner with Ricky Doyle on him, but giving space:
Blackmon Jr. heads for the rim with Aubrey Dawkins shadowing him pretty well. But the freshman is making enough noise where Doyle comes from the weak side to help:
With Doyle fully committing and going for the block, it completely exposes the basket area for Williams to come in and do his thing:
Indiana bounced back from a loss at Wisconsin with a narrow 70-67 win over Michigan on Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall. The win moved the Hoosiers to 17-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Wolverines:
· Indiana continues to find ways to win close games: A season ago, Indiana struggled to close out games for a variety of reasons. Turnovers was chief among them as was a lack of capable shot makers to turn to. The script has been flipped through eleven league games as Indiana now has seven conference wins and six of them have been decided by six points or less.
Sunday was another example of Indiana not playing its best game, but still figuring out a way to claim a win. The Hoosiers built an 11-point lead against the Wolverines with 14 minutes to play, but Michigan never folded and ultimately had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. Still, Indiana never let go of control of the game, which is a sign of growth over last season.
“I’d say the difference has been mindset, our mental mindset going into a close game like that is just to get a stop and whatever is necessary to get it, we’re going to get it,” Yogi Ferrell explained. “We go out there, we fight for each other and we fight for the team and we come out with the outcome we want.”
Tom Crean said it yesterday. Despite a depleted roster, he knew Michigan would still bring it.
“They’re missing some players but they’re not missing their coach, they’re not missing their staff, and they’re not missing their system,” Crean said. “And when you have that, you’ve got a chance to be very successful.”
And successful enough the Wolverines were. Despite Indiana often having a field day in transition, exploiting some considerable matchup advantages in the backcourt and hitting 41.2 percent from distance (7-of-17), the Hoosiers just were never ever to jump on the bike and fully break away. Up 11 after a Nick Zeisloft triple at the 14:00 mark, Michigan stormed back with an 11-4 run to cut the lead to four at 55-51 with 10:51 to go.
The Hoosiers punched it back to nine after a Yogi Ferrell 3-ball at the 8:38 mark. But the Hoosiers went 5:10 without a field goal (from the 5:41 to :30 mark) to end the game. Couple the field goal drought with some incorrect calls from the officials in favor of Michigan late, and it allowed the Wolverines a shot to tie the game on their final possession. But Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s open corner 3-point attempt missed. The Hoosiers hung on for the victory.